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Hofstra Law Review

Abstract

Judges and legislators have already faced a number of dilemmas posed by AIDS which necessitate the delineation of a concrete boundary between the state's responsibility to protect public health and the individual's right to be protected from governmental intrusion. The legal dilemmas are exacerbated because decisions must be made in the absence of adequate medical knowledge about the cause, epidemiology or treatment of the disease. Moreover, judicial and legislative decisions are being made in a context in which fears about the disease, and metaphors originating from it, are powerful and work to cloud legal categorizations and preclude objective evaluations.

The promulgation and interpretation of rules and regulations related to AIDS demands awareness of the most recent medical knowledge and sensitivity to popular conceptions of the disease. As medical knowledge about AIDS grows, governmental justifications for regulating behavior will shift. In order to separate medical knowledge from fear and scientific discourse from panic inspired by media or sustained by people's images of AIDS patients, it is necessary to examine the assumptions through which AIDS is understood and interpreted in the society.

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